Technology

The young people have spoken: wallets are not cool. Go digital.

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In a survey that asked just over 2,500 Americans about digital payments, about 80% of Gen Z respondents said they use mobile wallets, and among them, half were eager to use their phone a lot of more than paying for things, according to recent data from Pymnts Intelligence, a research firm that studies trade.

Younger people are increasingly using their phones for purposes that older adults would use a traditional wallet for, such as carrying around documents like driver’s licenses, boarding passes and event tickets. Some of these digital items can be added to Apple and Google’s Wallet apps, while others, like insurance cards, can be downloaded through third-party apps.

The change in behavior reflects the journey mobile wallets have taken. About a decade ago, when I talked about emerging mobile payment apps, most people shrugged at the technology because tapping their phone on a scanner was no more convenient than swiping a credit card. In recent years, in the midst of a global pandemic that has pushed people toward contactless payments, Apple and Google have expanded their software to support digitized driver’s licenses and transportation cards, a perfect storm that has made mobile wallets more useful.

Braving myself without a wallet for a week, I only used my phone to shop; going to bars, out to dinner and to the cinema; and even buy crab from a fisherman’s boat. The phone was sufficient in almost all of these situations, although paying for dinner was more complicated and using a digital driver’s license to buy wine at a grocery store was a no-go.

If you’re hoping to ditch your wallet or simply want to reduce clutter in your pocket, here’s what you need to know.

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